Watch: How Minimalistic Cinematography Brought ‘The Godfather Part II’ to Life

DP Mike Eley breaks down Gordon Willis's cinematography in 'The Godfather Part II.' In a new video essay from Cooke Optics, Mike Eley, cinematographer of Jane Eyre, Touching the Void, and, most recently, Woman Walks Ahead, walks us through the game-changing cinematography of The Godfather Part II. To shoot the film, the legendary "Prince of Darkness" Gordon Willis expanded upon the shadowy, underlit aesthetic he employed on The Godfather, but there were some notable changes to his method. For one, the Eley explains, The Godfather Part II Continue reading "Watch: How Minimalistic Cinematography Brought ‘The Godfather Part II’ to Life"

Peek Behind-the-Scenes of Spike Lee’s Epic Career with the Director and Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin calls Spike Lee 'one of the greatest filmmakers alive.' When the two get together, knowledge is dropped. For a long time, Alec Baldwin couldn't get Spike Lee on the phone. "He is impossible to reach. He finally called me back and said, 'Hey!' as if nothing happened," Baldwin said at a recent Tribeca Talk at the 2018 festival. On the phone that day, Lee had agreed to do the Tribeca Talk, but put forth a request: that they not talk about Lee's movies. So Baldwin had Lee pick a movie to Continue reading "Peek Behind-the-Scenes of Spike Lee’s Epic Career with the Director and Alec Baldwin"

‘The Bleeding Edge’: The ‘Outrage’ Art of the Investigative Documentary Exposé

A new Netflix documentary from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering shines a light on the perils of the medical device industry. "When it comes to medical devices, we created a system that doesn’t work," says former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler in Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering's Netflix documentary The Bleeding Edge. That's a bold statement to make about a $400 billion healthcare industry, particularly coming from its former gatekeeper. But to the patients whose lives have been irrevocably—and often traumatically—harmed due to complications from devices that were not tested on humans, it's an understatement. Continue reading "‘The Bleeding Edge’: The ‘Outrage’ Art of the Investigative Documentary Exposé"

Watch: The Notorious Evolution of Daniel Plainview’s Character in ‘There Will Be Blood’

A new video essay delves deep into the creation of Daniel Plainview, the infamous prospector in Paul Thomas Anderson's 'There Will Be Blood.' "Daniel Plainview is one of the most well-developed characters in cinema history," says Tyler Knudsen in his new video essay from the series Cinema Tyler. It's true—Daniel Day-Lewis's embodiment of Paul Thomas Anderson's fictional oilman is, at least in the realm of American cinema, unparalleled in its complexity. Plainview's obsessive ambition, avarice, manipulative tendencies, charisma, and intelligence are a Molotov cocktail made in antihero heaven. Drawing on Continue reading "Watch: The Notorious Evolution of Daniel Plainview’s Character in ‘There Will Be Blood’"

‘Pick of the Litter’: How to Navigate Festival Deals, or ‘The Business Side of Film School’

Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, co-directors of 'Pick of the Litter,' discuss how they navigated a competitive market at Slamdance for a deal with IFC Films. "Your film is not a 'festival' film." That's what an industry insider told Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, co-directors of the documentary Pick of the Litter. Weeks later, it was accepted at the Slamdance Film Festival—in the opening night slot. After it screened there, the film was picked up by IFC Film's Sundance Selects. And nearly ten festivals later, it was recently a finalist for the Audience Award Continue reading "‘Pick of the Litter’: How to Navigate Festival Deals, or ‘The Business Side of Film School’"

Watch: BTS with the Skeleton Crew of David Lowery’s ‘A Ghost Story’

A new video shows intimate moments from the set of David Lowery's 'A Ghost Story.' When we spoke to David Lowery about his transcendent A Ghost Story last summer, the director told us that he almost quit halfway through. "There was a point in production where I lost all my confidence," he said, "and I thought it was too high-concept to succeed." Lowery's primary concern was the viability of the ghost costume on camera. "To make [the ghost] costume work in three dimensions was a feat of mechanical engineering," he said. Continue reading "Watch: BTS with the Skeleton Crew of David Lowery’s ‘A Ghost Story’"

How Susanna White Reinvented the Western for ‘Woman Walks Ahead’

Susanna White's Western turns the white male-centric genre on its head with a female and a Native-American lead. In the 1880s, an artist named Catherine Weldon defied convention. She left a comfortable life in Brooklyn to travel alone to North Dakota, where she would paint a portrait of Chief Sitting Bull and help advocate for his people in one of the most contentious—and, ultimately, bloodiest—treaty disputes in U.S. history. Michael Greyeyes portrays the leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota tribe in Susanna White's film, Woman Walks Ahead, based on these Continue reading "How Susanna White Reinvented the Western for ‘Woman Walks Ahead’"

Kent Jones on ‘Surprising Himself’ with Tribeca-Winning, Scorsese-Produced ‘Diane’

Kent Jones, the director of the New York Film Festival, brings his stirring narrative debut to Tribeca. Kent Jones is a bona fide cinephile. Since 2013, he has served as director of the New York Film Festival, where his curatorial sensibilities have helped shape one of the nation's preeminent film showcases. Before that, as a critic, he wrote about and interviewed many of contemporary cinema's great auteurs; his 2007 book Physical Evidence: Selected Film Criticism is a testament to his deep understanding of—and reverence for—the art of film. In 2015, Jones took the director's chair Continue reading "Kent Jones on ‘Surprising Himself’ with Tribeca-Winning, Scorsese-Produced ‘Diane’"

‘Maine’: How Matthew Brown Filmed a Love Story in the Wilderness with Little Dialogue

Matthew Brown's 'Maine,' starring Laia Costa and Thomas Mann, is a rugged two-hander set on the Appalachian Trail. Hiking is a meditative experience, and Matthew Brown has captured it cinematically in his sophomore feature, Maine. For the first 10 minutes of the film, no words are exchanged; the only dialogue is between the body and nature. Two Appalachian Trail hikers, Bluebird (Laia Costa) and Lake (Thomas Mann), perform their hiking and camping rituals in comfortable silence. There is something profoundly shared between them. But that silence soon grows restive. As soon Continue reading "‘Maine’: How Matthew Brown Filmed a Love Story in the Wilderness with Little Dialogue"

‘Notes on an Appearance’: Ricky D’Ambrose on How to Cheat Locations and Why He Shot 4:3

Set in the world of Brooklyn intelligentsia, Ricky D'Ambrose's 'Notes on an Appearance' manages to narrowly sidestep satire. Notes on an Appearance revels in absence. For one, Ricky D'Ambrose's film never actually shows Stephen Taubes, the fictional philosopher on which the film is based. We meet him, and his controversial anarchistic writings, through a series of news articles that appear onscreen (including a New Yorker profile that could fool even the magazine's most avid reader). An intern for a man working on Taubes's biography, David (Bingham Bryant), is tasked with archiving much of the author's Continue reading "‘Notes on an Appearance’: Ricky D’Ambrose on How to Cheat Locations and Why He Shot 4:3"

Endorsed By PTA: Emily Kai Bock on Music Videos as Film School and Shooting on 65mm

Music video director Emily Kai Bock discusses her career path and 'A Funeral for Lightning,' her first foray into narrative. Emily Kai Bock dropped out of film school. You might have, too, if you struck gold with your first music video—as she did with Grimes' "Oblivion," which has been watched 35-million times to date. Her film school education thus continued in the field, where she created the cinema tic video for Arcade Fire's "Afterlife," with its rich emotional texture and nocturnal hues. Dozens of high-profile music videos later, Block now makes her narrative film debut Continue reading "Endorsed By PTA: Emily Kai Bock on Music Videos as Film School and Shooting on 65mm"

‘Gemini’: Why Aaron Katz Didn’t Let Genre Dominate His Genre Film

Aaron Katz's 'Gemini,' a neo-noir starring Lola Kirke and Zoë Kravitz, is a slow-burn murder mystery set in an alienating Los Angeles. The characters in Gemini move listlessly—and sometimes recklessly—through a neon-saturated Los Angeles, where just below the veneer of a polished Instagram picture lurks a chaotic underworld of mal intentions. Aaron Katz's film stars Lola Kirke as Jill, a personal assistant to an erratic actress (Zoë Kravitz). After pulling out of a major film at the 11th hour, Heather has just pissed off a cadre of very important Hollywood producers, not to mention her Continue reading "‘Gemini’: Why Aaron Katz Didn’t Let Genre Dominate His Genre Film"

‘Outside In’: Lynn Shelton Reveals How to Create Naturalism on a ‘Carefully Vetted’ Set

Lynn Shelton's 'Outside In' is a deeply empathetic character study of life after a decades-long unjust prison sentence. Minimalist filmmaking is a difficult line to toe. Shave too much meat off a film and the audience grows bored—or worse, is left wondering, "What was the point?" Lynn Shelton knows just the right balance. Her minimalist wonder, Outside In, delivers most of its exposition in moments of organic interaction between characters. What's often left unsaid hangs in the air, refracting onscreen in the form of body language. Here, a glance averted, and a truth Continue reading "‘Outside In’: Lynn Shelton Reveals How to Create Naturalism on a ‘Carefully Vetted’ Set"

‘The Guilty’: The Pulse-Pounding Crime Thriller Set on One Side of a Phone Call

In Gustav Möller's exhilarating, twisty thriller, all of the action takes place in a 9-1-1 call center. Perhaps the most underutilized tool in a director's arsenal is the imagination—and not theirs, but the audience's. First-time director Gustav Möller knows this better than anyone. His thriller, The Guilty, which won the Audience Award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at this year's Sundance Film Festival, harnesses the power of the viewer's own imagery to upend our expectations until the very last moment. Read More

Watch: Discover the Sounds that Inhabit the Films of Wes Anderson

Sound design is one of the more under-appreciated aspects of a Wes Anderson production. Every element of Wes Anderson's mise en scène is immaculately constructed—and, in turn, has been deconstructed by fans and critics alike. The auteur's use of symmetry is perhaps his most well-known trademark; close seconds are his films' camera movement and set design. Even Anderson's use of windows and the decisions he makes regarding his characters' ages have been analyzed. But one of the single most important elements about the idiosyncratic director is often left out of the Continue reading "Watch: Discover the Sounds that Inhabit the Films of Wes Anderson"

Meet R1, the First Self-Flying 4K Drone

This autonomous drone from Skydio can be flown without expertise. 10 years ago, MIT classmates Adam Bry, Abraham Bacharach, and Matt Donahoe had a great idea. As the drone market was expanding, they wondered: What if we created an autonomous, video-capturing drone? A decade later, their product has come to market. The R1, developed by the MIT grads' start-up, Skydio, is the first professional-grade drone that can be flown without expertise. Geared toward "rock climbers, hikers, runners, dancers, or anyone who likes recording themselves while in motion," according to MIT News, Continue reading "Meet R1, the First Self-Flying 4K Drone"

Storyboarding ‘Isle of Dogs’: How Wes Anderson Channelled Kurosawa

Jay Clarke, storyboard artist for 'Isle of Dogs,' breaks down his process and the inspirations behind the film. Every filmmaker has his or her own preferences when it comes to storyboarding. Some directors even believe it is among the most important elements of the filmmaking process. Ben Wheatley (High Rise), for example, storyboards with 1,000 drawings; the Coen brothers, meanwhile, go so far as to draw floor plans depicting where the camera and the actors will be for a particularly complex shot. "[Storyboard artists] are effectively the 'take Continue reading "Storyboarding ‘Isle of Dogs’: How Wes Anderson Channelled Kurosawa"

‘The Cleaners’: Inside the Dirtiest and Most Secretive Job on the Internet

Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck's doc reveals the moral quandary of internet content moderation. Facebook, Twitter, and Google wish it didn’t. The internet is a massive tapestry of humanity. It is an endless repository of information, a tool that can be used to any end—however democratic, authoritarian, benevolent, or sinister, depending entirely on the human being who wields it. But some things never make it online. Hours after they are posted, some Facebook photos, tweets, and videos are deleted. Who are the people deciding what we do and don't see on Continue reading "‘The Cleaners’: Inside the Dirtiest and Most Secretive Job on the Internet"

Many Movies Use CGI Where You’d Least Expect It

Movies such as 'I, Tonya' use CGI to solve logistical problems rather than create monsters or explosions. Even though it's an incredibly complex and expensive craft, CGI is saving modern film productions more money than ever by facilitating simple fixes to logistical production issues that could wind up proving costly. In fact, more often than not, as this new video from Polyglon demonstrates, visual effects now appear in movies where you'd least expect to find them. For example, even though nothing spectacular happens in the marina scene in Wolf of Wall Street, it was shot entirely on a production stage Continue reading "Many Movies Use CGI Where You’d Least Expect It"

Why ‘Good Editing Is Like Good Sex’

At Berlinale 2018, Susan Korda discussed secrets from the editing room. "I don't think we need to suffer in the editing room, but it's truly where the chicken comes home to roost," said Susan Korda, editor, producer, director, story consultant, and professor at Columbia University. In a workshop for editors at Berlinale this year, Korda shared some hard-won insights from her career as well as golden rules from Walter Murch (the rule of six) and William Faulker ("kill your darlings"). Breaking down scenes from Bonnie and Clyde and Jaws, Korda recreates the initial “Oh, shit! Continue reading "Why ‘Good Editing Is Like Good Sex’"